BMW M3 Coupe vs. Ford Mustang GT

When buying a new or used car, some of the most important information lies in the vehicle’s specifications. These numbers – things like horsepower, torque and ride height, ultimately determine how well a car will perform on the road.

Of course, a driver can research all the numbers they want, but it won’t mean anything until they get the car out on the road. Often, a car performs better or worse than the numbers initially indicate. The driving experience can also be highly subjective. One driver may want a smooth ride above all else, while another likes to feel the seat vibrate as they open up the engine. Many factors contribute to the right car.

American muscle car fans will contend that nothing beats sitting behind the wheel of a Mustang. BMW purists, meanwhile, will tout the blazing speeds and smooth rides of an M3 Coupe. For years, Ford‘s signature car couldn’t compete with its European rival. But now, with a complete redesign to the Mustang line, MotorTrend felt it was time to take a 2011 Mustang GT to the track and test it against the BMW M3 Coupe.

With both equipped with V8 engines, the Mustang slightly edges out the M3. While the Coupe boasts 2 more horsepower (414 to 412,) the Mustang has a better power-to-weight ratio (8.8 “pounds per pony” to the M3’s 8.6), meaning its horses do a bit more work and make it slightly faster. Although both cars posted a 4.4 second 0-60 time, the Mustang beat the M3 in longer straight races. Yet that means nothing on an actual track, with turns involved. This battle couldn’t be settled just yet.

To keep things fair, the cars can be driven in two different styles. Inexperienced drivers will opt for electronic stability control and other assisted driving implements on, while pros will turn all those off and do things manually. So the news source had two different drivers attempt lap times at the track – the unprofessional automotive writer and a racing champ, Randy Pobst.

In the end, the cars were evenly matched. The “average” driver posted a faster time with the Mustang by about half a second, while the pro favored the M3 by .09 seconds. The M3 costs a fair bit more, but preference ultimately comes down to what a driver is looking for from a vehicle – both are mean machines capable of handling any track.

Either way, the prices on these bad boys will set drivers back a bit, so they may want to wait a few years until the models hit the used car market before making a decision. But if drivers want to get behind the wheel now, they can likely find a late-model used Ford or BMW at their local dealer today.